Last Summer, my family spent a glorious three weeks in the Black Forest, Germany. At the time, I was busy editing my cookbook so I never got the chance to write about the trip, so it’s been wonderful to spend time this weekend looking through photos and reminiscing.
In this post, I thought I’d share some of our favourite activities from the vacation as well as our experiences of eating vegan in the Black Forest; an area of Germany that isn’t particularly known for its ‘vegan-friendliness’.
For the majority of our vacation, we stayed in a holiday apartment on the outskirts of Freudenstadt. Just a two minute walk from the apartment and we were in the Black Forest. It’s one of the most beautiful, peaceful places I’ve ever been.
We spent many hours in the forest, hiking and running.
We also took picnics with us and enjoyed them in the log cabins that are dotted through the forest.
The forest smelt incredible too… a mixture of pine and earthy, mossy scents.
On our trips, we also stumbled across waterfalls and lakes. Lots of special places to pause and soak in the beauty of nature.
We were able to explore further afield, thanks to our kind hosts, Edeltraud and Gunther, who provided us with complimentary Schwarzald Plus cards. With these cards, we were able to use the trains, buses and chair lifts in the region for free, as well as free entry into 80 attractions (including the local swimming pool) throughout our entire stay! What an amazing card! It literally saved us hundreds of pounds.
We made full use of the free transport to explore the region’s cities and towns (Baden Baden was a favourite of ours) as well as the chair lift in neighbouring Baiersbronn. There’s a lovely cafe at the top of the chair lift, where I spent time chilling out and reading, while the boys whizzed down the hill in go-karts (another attraction that’s free with the Schwarzwald Plus card!)
The card also gave us free entry to the incredible Baumwipfelpfad in Bayern! It’s like a huge, modern helter skelter.
At the top you’re greeted with the most breath-taking views of the forest – trees for as far as the eye can see. To return back to the bottom, you can either walk or grab a cushion and whiz you way down the helter skelter. How fun is that?
After spending our days exploring, we’d return to the beautiful apartment, cook some delicious dinner then curl up on the huge comfy sofas to watch movies. We’d bought 20 second-hand dvds with us (purchased from Amazon for a penny each!) and they were just perfect for family evening entertainment.
Each day, we stocked up on groceries in Freudenstadt, which was a 20 minute walk from the apartment, commencing along this beautiful path.
The town has two supermarkets – Aldi and Norma – as well as an organic health-food shop, and all were well stocked with vegan-friendly food (much to our delight!)
We were especially appreciative of the clear labelling. We don’t speak German, but luckily we didn’t have to try and read the ingredients as there were big vegan labels on the packaging!
In the main supermarkets, we were able to buy a whole array of vegan products including pesto, pates, dips, mayonnaise, hummus, milks, crackers and cookies.
In the health food shop, we were able to buy more specialist items, such as flavoured tofus (my favourite Taifun brand!) and chocolates including the gorgeous Vivani.
For lunch, we would buy fresh-baked seeded rolls from Aldi, fill them with hummus or pate, tofu, and salad. Pack them in containers that we’d brought from England and stash them in our backpacks. For snacks we had trail mix and chocolate.
For evening meals, we loved these bags of organic frozen vegetables. They were so handy (and I really wish we could get them in England!) We mixed them with jars of marinara, sweet ’n’ sour or curry sauces and serve them with pasta, rice or noodles, and nuts/seeds/tofu for a protein boost. It literally took 15 minutes to make dinner (and no chopping involved!)
The supermarkets also sold vegan-friendly meals. We tried this green curry one night, which was lovely (but these kinds of meals tend to work out a lot more expensive than making your own).
We saw a couple of vegan-friendly restaurants during our excursions to the Black Forest towns, but we were happy to eat at the apartment every night. Not only were the meals tasty and nourishing, but they were cheap to make too.
During our vacation in Germany, we also got to stay in Stuttgart for a couple of nights. We stayed with the lovely Katja (an architect) in her stunning, modern house. I’d emailed ahead and mentioned to Katja that we were vegan and she kindly offered to make us a vegan breakfast. We happened to be her first ever vegan guests, but you would never have known. In the morning, we were greeted with a table laden with vegan-friendly goodies, including plant-based milks, yogurts, muesli as well as breads and home-made jam.
We had one whole day in Stuttgart so we went to the most famous attraction – the Mercedes-Benz Museum. It’s a great day out and highly recommended. Lil’ L and M were lucky enough to return to Stuttgart another day with our Freudenstadt host, Gunther, who took them on a tour of the Mercedes-Benz factory (he took an afternoon off work to accompany them – how kind is that?)
It happened to be our 14th wedding anniversary while we were in Stuttgart and we celebrated in style, sitting on bar stools and munching falafel platters at Vegi. Not very classy I know, but we loved it! While we were there, more and more people arrived to order their takeaway dinners, and the queue ended up going right out the door. It made me smile to see veggie food so popular here in Stuttgart!
We also found a lovely cafe in Stuttgart called Cafe DA where we tucked into yummy chocolate cake. The staff are really friendly here so be sure to go say hi to them if you ever find yourself in Stuttgart.
Even though I was working on my book during our time in the Black Forest, I couldn’t have been in a more beautiful, relaxing place to put the final touches to it. I will always look back at this summer with great fondness. Thank you Gunther, Edeltraud and Katja for making our stay so comfortable. We’ll be back, for sure!